Saturday, August 2, 2008


Recently, The Leopard was having a conversation at lunch with some co-workers about fears. What is it that we are afraid of? We all agreed that our biggest fear would be the death of a loved one: our children, our spouses, our significant others. But what were our childhood fears when we were kids and more self-centered?

I mentioned that the first thing I remember really being afraid of was the Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz. They used to play it every year around Thanksgiving or Easter and I loved the movie and was mesmerized by it, but I hated the Witch. I remember from the moment when she first arrives to fetch the ruby slippers in one of the early scenes set in Munchkin Land. I would cower in my seat, hugging a couch cushion tightly to me.

In our conversation at lunch, someone interjected that they were afraid of the flying monkeys. She said that she used to have nightmares about them. They never bugged me. Their frozen faces were obviously masks, and even at 8 years old I knew they were fake and you could clearly see the wire harnesses connected to their backs when they "flew". So it's interesting to note, based on personal experience even at that young age, what's scary to some people and what's not.

I think the scariest movie I'd ever seen in my adolescence was The Exorcist. The mixture of religious imagery the sexual references, and the utter grossness of the film freaked me out. I couldn't sleep after seeing it for days. Unlike vampires whom you could fight with a cross and a wooden stake, or Frankenstein, who walked so slow I always imagined I could outrun him, the Devil was everywhere. There wasn't really anything to fight. Like the scene in The Omen where David Warner's head is lopped off by a large sheet of plate glass.

As you get older, you tend to have more realistic fears. The thugs on the street, someone breaking into your home, the car accident.

In the summers, I usually see several children's films with my kids. This year I haven't seen any. The reason is my youngest saw a poster for Dark Knight and the image of the Joker horrified him. Since then, I haven't been able to get him into the theater to see any film. For him The joker is his Exorcist. I don't blame him. If I were 5 years old, I might feel the same way.

The Leopard was afraid of the dark until I was around 8. My parents allowed me to have a blue light in my room until my older brother finally got fed up and took it away. I'm not sure what I was afraid of, there in the dark. I think the Wicked Witch, ready to fly me away to her dark castle. Never could figure out what she'd want with me, though.

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